• Top 25 contenders at the Australian Open: Part 5

    12/31/12 4:58 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Top 25 contenders at the Australian Open: Part 5 Tennistalk wraps up its countdown of the Top 25 Australian Open contenders with Nos. 1 through 5. Novak Djokovic leads the way, just ahead of fellow front-runners Andy Murray and Roger Federer.

    5. David Ferrer – At some point, Ferrer is going to slow down. It’s just going to happen. But at 30 years old (turning 31 in April), there is no reason to think 2013 will be the culprit. Ferrer enjoyed the best season of his career in 2012, compiling a ridiculous 76-15 record that included his biggest-ever title at the Paris Masters. He followed that up by decimating Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych in Davis Cup, so his confidence must be sky-high. The Australian Open may not be on clay, but a relatively slow, high-bouncing hard court is the next best option. Now that Rafael Nadal has withdrawn, a second semifinal for the Spaniard is likely.

    4. Juan Martin Del Potro – Now two full seasons removed from his lost 2010, it’s time for Del Potro to get back to the game’s pinnacle—where he peaked at the 2009 U.S. Open. The Argentine went 48-18 in 2011 and 65-17 in 2012; two years does not a trend make, but it’s pretty clear that Del Potro is once again on the upswing. He ended last season by winning two of his last four tournaments, the last of which was marked by a solid semifinal showing at the World Tour Finals. This will really be the first time that Del Potro is 100 percent for an Australian Open since his Flushing Meadows triumph. With a perfect surface for him under his feat, there are no limits. Just to clarify, Ferrer has a better chance of reaching the semis because his No. 4 seed makes him less susceptible to a bad draw, but Del Potro is the only one of the two who could somehow go all the way.

    3. Roger Federer – Wimbledon and the U.S. Open have always been Federer’s two best slams, and that is not going to change in the latter stages of his career. A slower surface is not conducive (relatively speaking) to his game, which will have to be in top shape in order for Federer to slug out long, baseline rallies with guys like Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Speaking of his form, it was solid but unspectacular late in 2012. The second-ranked Swiss lost in the quarters of the U.S. Open, the semis of Shanghai, and in the finals of both Basel and London. A month’s worth of an “offseason” will help, but it does not benefit Federer like it does other top players. Contrary to what Federer says, he is always fresh; he is always 100 percent. For mere mortals, on the other hand, the offseason is necessary to regain that same percentage. An 18th Grand Slam title is well within the realm of possibility, but it’s not a likelihood.

    2. Andy Murray – Murray is 17-3 in the last the Australian Open installments. That’s a runner-up, another runner-up, and a semifinal. He actually improved in Melbourne last season, because instead of getting humiliated in a final he lost to Djokovic 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(4), 6-1, 7-5 in an absolute epic. Moreover, the Murray who was previously on display was a Murray who knew he was not going to win the title. With a major triumph finally under his belt, this new Murray is a Murray who knows he can be the last man left standing on the second Sunday. In addition to his U.S. Open victory, the third-round Scot also captured gold in London and made it to the final at the All-England Club. Murray suffered a minor letdown during the fall swing, but that is forgivable in the aftermath of several life-changing moments. Count on the Murray of last summer on display for the Australian summer.

    1. Novak Djokovic – Everything about the Australian Open sets up perfectly for Djokovic. For one, it’s on a surface that suits his game and is not ideal for any other top contender. He doesn’t have to deal with clay-court specialists, Federer doesn’t love it, and Murray would like it to be just a tad faster. The one man for whom the surface should work wonders (Del Potro) has never done anything Down Under to inspire much confidence. Djokovic, meanwhile, appears to be the next Andre Agassi of Melbourne Park. The top-ranked Serb has won it twice in succession and three out of the last five times. He hasn’t lost prior to the quarterfinals since 2007 and he hasn’t bowed out prior to the fourth round since 2006. All he did last season was outlast Murray in five sets, recover in one day, then survive Nadal in the longest match in the history of the tournament. How can Djokovic be stopped at this event? That’s a question that probably won’t be answered anytime soon.

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Somehow this article never appeared (as seen by the lack of comments). It didn't show up in the News section when I looked either.

My post from Part IV was a good summary even though I hadn't seen Part V, no?

1 Djokovic - defending champion, current great form
2 Murray - won last slam, beating Djokovic
3 Federer - he's Federer
4 Del Potro - playing great again
5 Ferrer - playing the best tennis of his career

Conspirator, 12/31/12 5:36 PM


Conspirator , 1/10/13 4:24 PM

^^^^^ Ditto.
Being 2nd favourite is just right for muzz ;) pressure's on nole :-)

alex , 1/10/13 7:28 PM

Fed says...

"Novak is the favourite going into Australia. He's been the best hardcourt player in the world for the last couple of years."


Conspirator , 1/10/13 8:15 PM

Nole with David... Andy in Roger's half of draw...

zare , 1/11/13 1:00 AM

Lol, Federer got the worst draw, where are the rigged draws ?

Paire, Davydenko, Tomic, Raonic, Tsonga, Delpo/Murray, Djokovic.

Emiliano55 , 1/11/13 1:37 AM

Djokovic's draw is a complete joke, same happened in the last USO.

But oh well, no matter what are the results, the draws are always rigged for Federer.

Emiliano55 , 1/11/13 1:43 AM

Mathieu, Harrison, Lopez, Wawrinka, Berdych, Ferrer, Fed/Murray

Not a complete joke but much simpler than Fed's I would agree.

samprallica , 1/11/13 2:02 AM

^^^Walkover, bye, walkover, virtual bye, match, walkover, battle

chr18 , 1/11/13 2:28 AM

Fed has a bye to the semis. Not an easy draw but not the worst.

As usual, Muzz has the toughest draw.


Conspirator , 1/11/13 2:35 AM

Yup if Murray were to win the Aussie I would say his confidence would skyrocket.

samprallica , 1/11/13 3:02 AM

I don't see Federer having much trouble in the first four rounds and see him ripping both Tomic and Raonic apart, but a quarter against Tsonga is very unpredictable.

It will be interesting to see how Murray handles Fed on this surface in a best of five, now that he has the monkey off his back.

samprallica , 1/11/13 3:07 AM

^^i couldnt agree more.
Meeting Novak in a final is different for him than Fedal.
Its not that they are better players (right now Novak is clearly the best player in the world) but they certainly have more of a psychological hold over him on the biggest stages so far & that has affected his ability to perform at his best.
Novak is over all of that after his 2011 and WTF 2012 exploits.
Lets see if Andy Murray is now ready.
As i think he will need to back up his US Open win to truly have the monkey off his back.

Twinge , 1/11/13 11:27 AM

Hope Andy sets that monkey free in some jungle soon. I know there are rain forests in Oz, pefect for monkeys, set YOURSELF free Andy!

deuce , 1/11/13 1:32 PM

^^I though they were more suitable for Koala Bears!

Twinge , 1/11/13 1:37 PM

Twingey, can't a gal hope that that particular monkey can be set free in OZ? Would be grand wouldn't it? In fact GRAND slam, grand....:)

deuce , 1/11/13 2:41 PM

Just grab yourself a branch from the nearest eucaplytus tree, chew and INHALE my sweet.
I've a feeling this one might go well ;)

Twinge , 1/11/13 2:47 PM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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